PRESS RELEASE: Disability Rights Maine Statement on Lewiston Shooting

CONTACT: Julia Endicott


October 26, 2023

Disability Rights Maine Statement on Lewiston Shooting

Augusta – Disability Rights Maine is horrified and deeply saddened by the shootings in Lewiston yesterday evening. Our hearts are with the Lewiston/Auburn community, the Maine Deaf Community and all impacted by the unfathomable acts of violence that took place at Just In Time Recreation Center and Schemengees Bar and Grille.

Much information remains unknown at this time and we anticipate more answers to yesterday’s events in the coming days. As this develops, we are concerned about any narrative that focuses on mental illness as the cause of such violence. Across the world, more than 790 million people live with a diagnosed mental health disorder. Yet, we only see this level of pervasive violence occur in the United States, where the number of guns owned by civilians outnumbers our total population.[1] This is a societal problem where hate is allowed to flourish and inaction is far too often the response.

In 2020, DRM signed onto a joint statement from the Coalition for Smart Safety. As this statement recognizes, more often, people with psychiatric labels are victims, rather than perpetrators of violence. Simply put, placing blame on people with mental illness will not solve our country’s gun violence problem. Rather, it makes people with mental health disabilities the scapegoat while failing to implement effective policy changes.

Mass violence is a public health crisis.

To dispel myths about mental illness and gun violence, we encourage you to access the following resources:

DRM also wants to share additional resources for those who may wish to seek support in navigating the trauma and grief of mass violence:

  • Maine Crisis Line: 1-888-568-1112 (Voice) or 711 (Maine Relay)
  • National Crisis Line: call or text 988
  • NAMI Maine Helpline: 1-800-464-5767 (Press 1)

Disability Rights Maine is Maine’s Protection & Advocacy organization. Our mission is to advance justice and equality by enforcing rights and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities in Maine.